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Branding, Miley Cyrus, #Twerk and Why This Matters For Parents

While the online and offline world are buzzing over Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, I wonder where everyone has been for the last year. The performance by Hannah Montana’s alter ego was shocking – and not in a good way – but it was not too far off with what is already all over the web. Twerking has joined modern pop culture talk and videos all over the web, as evidenced with my favorite leading indicator of rebellious behavior….hot-selling shorts at summer beach stores.



Online dad Jim Higley agreed that we should not let Robin Thicke off the hook. Online  mom Beth Feldman (a.k.a RoleMommy) could not help but share her PR/branding tips to help Miley Cyrus and on OMG Insider:






Many teens and young adults believe that getting attention online, including social media, is a type of approval. Miley Cryus confirmed this point with her tweet after the VMA’s. Her performance had “306,000 tweets per minute – more then the superbowl“.



Is this type of attention the right type of attention for her brand? When I asked my teen son (who is very up on modern pop culture and a fan of rebellious musical performances) about Miley Cyrus’s VMA “Twerk” performance and how she was sharing how popular it was online he said “Ewwww“.  When my 10 year old sons have heard about the twerking incident, they shook their heads and said “What happened to Hannah Montana?”


With new reports that Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke knew they would be “making history” and that everyone is “overthinking it”, it seems as though it was a planned strategy.   I am also a fan of shocking musical performances such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, but  think this type of performance was not the right type of shocking for a professional image. Because I speak on the topic of branding for professionals, I thought I would share tips for parents to talk about branding/online image with their kids. With discussions raging on Miley Cryus’s behavior, this may just be the perfect time.


1. What is popular does not equal what is appropriate for your image/brand: I suggest that parents pay attention to the popular terms in modern pop culture (like Twerking) then help their kids understand what may be popular is not always appropriate. This goes hand in hand with kids’ understanding that the image they share online will stay with them the rest of their lives, and be seen by audiences varying from college recruiters to future employers. Then parents can discuss with their kids how to brand themselves with an understanding of allowing free expression that is appropriate to share online and what should be kept offline.


2. Parents Should Learn The Terms:  I was confused at how it took something as public as the VMAs to get people in an uproar about Twerking. It has been going on for some time. Yes, teens and dancing always seems to be a hot button or movie theme. So the more parents can keep up on the current terms, the better they will be prepared to discuss what is and is not appropriate for their kids age (again, what is popular may not be good for their personal brand). It’s great to give kids some slack regarding freedom of expression. But now that every event seems to have someone taking pictures and posting online, maybe some dances need to stay off the dance floor and social media platforms.


The task of trying to keep up to date on terms and websites kids are using may be overwhelming, but there are sites that offering information to help. My core philosophy is to start by rewarding kids for sharing what apps they are using and have regular internet safety talks.


At the same time, parents can look online to understand terms and apps. I start with monitoring research such as the Pew research reports and lists like the  top social media apps kids are using. Resources such as search engines and internet safety sites including NetSmartz, ESRB and Common Sense Media are also a great place to start.  ESRB has an updated version of its mobile ratings app to include interactive elements (shares personal info, shares location, users interact). Even though rumors about the word “Twerk” being added to the Oxford Dictionary may be wrong, the term WAS added to the Oxford Dictionary online (OED) which the Slate website called “a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, including many obsolete and historical terms. Words are never removed from the OED.” So the OED may be a good place to check to understand that foreign language our kids speak.


While the goal is to open up a respectful dialog with kids so they come to their parents to discuss issues, being a parent also means delivering the hard to hear but important information to protect their kids. This tweet shared by Miley seemed to show her Dad did not give her the difficult-to-hear feedback.






How do you keep up on terms used by your kids? Which ones do you have an issue with?





Gullivers Travels The Movie, An Adventure For The Whole Family

Last Thursday I traveled to LA for a press event I had been looking forward to for quite some time: a screening of the movie Gullivers Travels with the opportunity to interview three of the movie’s fabulous stars: Jack Black, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel.

While I was waiting to board the plane I received a phone call from my tween, middle school son. He told me a few kids from school, friends since kindergarten, were acting mean toward him and he was disappointed. I tried to make him feel better about the situation, but I could not shake the thought of my son feeling “small” while other kids proclaimed themselves “the big kids on campus”.

Update: Here is a link to my second post on Gulliver’s Travels with more interview details.

Of course, the parallel between real life and art was striking that night when I attended the movie screening. The Gullivers Travels movie, based on the popular book by Jonathan Swift, showcases main character Lemuel Guliver feeling like a “small man in a big pond” before he goes on a journey that forces him to overcome his fears and have the courage to reach his goals.

GIVEAWAY: At the bottom of this post I will provide details on my giveaway: One Gullivers Travels movie poster signed by Jack Black, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. I even saw them sign the poster so this is for real! Comment on this post to enter.

Here is the movie trailer for a glimpse of the special effects that brought the story to life. The movie is in 3D, so for the moment just imagine that added dimension of things coming out of the screen:

Movie Trailer:

Gullivers Travels The Movie will debut in theatres on December 25, 2010 and stars Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Chris O’Dowd, Catherine Tate and Billy Connolly. The screenplay is by Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller, based on the book by Jonathan Swift. The movie is directed by Rob Letterman with Jack Black as one of the Executive Producers. The MPAA Rating is PG and the genre is adventure comedy.

Plot Outline (provided to the press group):

“In a modern, 3D family comedy take on the classic tale, Jack Black (star of “Kung Fu Panda” and “ School of Rock ”) is Lemuel Gulliver, a lowly mailroom clerk at a New York newspaper. After Gulliver bluffs his way into an assignment writing about the Bermuda Triangle, he goes there only to be transported to an undiscovered land, Lilliput. In this fantastical new world, Gulliver is, at last, a bigger-than-life figure — in size and ego – especially after he starts telling tall tales, taking credit for his world’s greatest inventions, and placing himself at the center of its most historic events. Gulliver’s position is enhanced even further when he leads his new friends in a daring battle against their longtime enemies. But when Gulliver loses it all and puts the Lilliputians in peril, he must find a way to undo the damage. Ultimately, Gulliver becomes a true giant among men only when he learns that it’s how big you are on the inside that counts.”

TechMamas Take:

Those who read the book Gullivers Travels, as I did many years ago, will see that the author created an adventure reflecting on the many sides of humor nature; from miopic, petty, and irrational to brave, creative and compasionate. The book also had an anti-war undertone.

Now take that story and put a “Jack Black” spin on it for the movie. With the added bonus that he is a dad himself (he has 2 small sons aged 2 and 4).

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Dr Frank Ryan, Texting While Driving and The Microdermabrasion That Will Never Be

While I may be a techie, I am also obsessed with celebrity news. I try to explain it to my friends that reading the crazy trials and tribulations of celebrity life is a great escape from the stress of my own daily life. But while the celebrities all seem to be doing some type of nip, tuck, needle prick and hair extension, my biggest spurge is a facial now and then.

But just last week I decided “why not try some celebrity sprucing up”. I started with jogging – and luckily I have no paparazzi following me. Next I wanted to go beyond a facial – but still stay away from a needle or an operating table. I remembered that a few years ago I somehow ended up with a gift certificate from one of the top plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills for a microdermabrasion. I thought “why not” – so I pulled out the gift certificate a few days ago. I hoped it was still valid. I decided that while I was there I could ask about what else the stars do. Just for curiosity’s sake of course…

Then I read the news that a beloved Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon named Dr. Frank Ryan was killed in a tragic accident. I read about the tragic death not only on TechMeme and Mashable, but on People Magazine. I had this feeling that the name Dr. Frank Ryan sounded familiar. So I grabbed the gift certificate out of my draw, and – yes – it was from Dr. Frank Ryan .

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Grammys Tech: Stephen Colbert and the Apple iPad, Imogen Heap and the “Twitdress”

First I saw many other tech journalists that had access to hands on demo’s of the Apple iPad during the press event. I was happy and content to crawl the web and do my own post about the features of the Apple iPad from that information. Even though I am a tech blogger, I was happy to wait until the Apple iPad came out to test drive it for myself at the Apple Store.

Then I saw a headline on Mashable titled “Pee Wee’s Big Apple iPad Adventure“.

What?? I was upset wondering when Pee Wee Herman became a tech journalist and why he got to use the Apple iPad before I did.

But then I watched the video, and realized it was the Pee Wee Adventure version; just a sketch.

Tonight as I was watching the Grammy’s I saw one real comedian (and one of my favorites) that had access to a real Apple iPad: Stephen Colbert from the Colbert Report used the Apple iPad while presenting. I agree with the post on the – nice product placement! I guess paper ballots will be passe in the future.

If I can’t have a hands on demo of the Apple iPad, maybe I could get my hands on that Twitter Dress (#Twitdress) that Imogen Heap wore to the Grammys. In a brillant use of engaging her community, she tweeted an email address that fans could email pictures – that then appeared on her Twitter stream.

Here is the picture Imogen Heap put on her YFrog account with the techie part of the dress.


Yahoo Shine’s Rock Mama Meets Rick Springfield

Charlene Prince Birkeland is a writer for the Parenting channel at Yahoo’s Shine, but best of all is a real rock mama. She goes to guitar camp, she knows all about music. For years she has been a big fan of Rick Springfield, going anywhere to see him in concert. So you can imagine how excited she was to have the chance to interview and GET A GUITAR LESSON from him… Here is the NOT TO BE MISSED post and video:


Tech Influential Women Of Diversity

Living in California I am lucky to be surrounded by diversity. But – I did not realize that by just covering what main stream tech media is covering – I by default am not supporting diversity. So I clicked over to my list of women using technology to get their voices heard to also give a shout out to diversity. Please let me be clear, these are just a sampling of those that I had the honor of meeting, googling or emailing with. There are SO many more (please add to the list!!):

Kimchi Mamas

Momocrats Smackdowns!

Stefania of CityMama 

Glennia of Silent I

Carmen of Anti-Racist Parent

Sheila of Xiaolin Mama

Sumaya Kazi of Cultural Connect

Women 2.0 Founders

Women of Technology Mentors – With a Focus on Diversity

Veronica – Viva La Feminista

Mocha Momma

Lena West

Lynne D Johnson

Filipina Moms

Nelly Yusupova

**Newest addition is a mom I met through Twitter: GeekyCyberMom

In future posts, I hope to also spotlight more tech executives such as Sukhinder Singh Cassidy – Vice president of Asia-Pacific
& Latin America operations Google
– who are also blazing trails in tech leadership.


Sheryl Sandberg, Incoming COO of Facebook and a U2 Fan to Boot!

This morning one of my fav bloggers Kara Swisher shared with us more tidbits on what motivated Sheryl Sandberg to leave her position at Google for COO of Facebook. I have said on earlier posts that movie celebrities are fun to look at – but women tech entrepreneurs and executives are the new celebrity in my book. But what really intrigues me about Sheryl Sandberg is not only her amazing background, but that she RECENTLY returned from maternity leave for her second child!!

Better yet, her brother-in-law (Marc Bodnick of Elevation Partners) was the one pushing for her to try Facebook:

Sheryl is a tremendous leader who has the chops in both online ads and monetization,” said Bodnick. “All of the problems of these social networking business models are all new, and she natively knows how to deal with them.”

Glad to see families supporting women succeeding in the workplace (and speaking out in public supporting them). I would drool for an interview with Sheryl Sandberg just to hear how she does it all – I imagine she has quite a good infrastructure at home. I heard of one successful executive that prints out recipes each night for her nanny to help get dinner going so when she comes home she can spend some quality time with her kids. I am in denial about cooking dinner until late afternoon – then I scramble to get it going…. Even if I had a nanny I would not know what to tell her to cook!

But on the cool factor, I think reading this juicy tidbit about her really hit the mark:

"According to Facebook board member and major investor Jim Breyer of Accel, for example: “I met her in 2001 at the U2 Concert in San Jose. Bono called her name out in front of the whole crowd thanking her for the work she had done with Larry Summers. We (including Bono) all went out for drinks afterwards. Little did I know that it would be a 23-year-old entrepreneur who would finally allow me to recruit her.”

I need to start going out to concerts again….


The Real Hottest Women On The Web

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I am liveblogging (gasp) the E! Entertainment special (on tonight) "Byte Me" – E!’s 20 Hottest Women of the Web".  I am watching not to see who they are, but to see who young men see as their fantasy "women on the web".  When I saw the commercial for the show,  I was outraged that in 2008 when we have such amazing women on the web – we are still presenting sexist/fantasy versions.  So here are a few juicy tidbits…

Byte me women on the web # 19 was Jen Sterger (I would link to her personal site but my K9 internet filter software blocked it). When interviewed on the show about what happened after her and her friends were filmed at a football games in bikini tops she said (as if she was upset):

"People hacked into my Facebook account – stole my bikini pictures and used pictures as their wallpaper…"

Without opening up a discussion on Facebook privacy controls, I wonder why she had those pictures up on her profile in the first place. The show also explained that after that she had 7000 friend requests per week (hey MySpace – Facebook is a hotspot for dating) .  From all of that attention, she got paid gigs as a sport writer (she joked that people were surprised she could put a sentence together).

Byte me women on the web #16 is Jennifer Nicole Lee – Bikini Mama. She is self proclaimed "America’s" fittest mom who said she went from mumus to pimped out bikinis. She called herself a momprenuer. She has fitness DVD’s you can get at Target (near the diaper isle) and has online photos of her fit self. Oh, and she is also a "self proclaimed" blogger. Ok, maybe I am being tough on her because she makes me even feel worse about my muffin top – that I got because I spend too much time being a REAL blogger and not exercising.

Here is an excerpt from her interview:

"Being a bikini mama is cool because there is a new whole paradigm shift where moms can be fun, sexy having wonderfully adventurous lives. And if I am a poster girl for that – bring it on."

Sorry E!, I am not a 18 year old boy so I can’t watch this anymore – even if I miss out on seeing the GoDaddy girl, Somaya Reece or Obama girl.  Does it really mean anything that the GoDaddy girl increased domain sales or Somaya Reece has 600,000 MySpace friends , 13 million page views on her profile and releases successful music singles on her MySpace page (one of her singles has 3 million online plays in two months). Now she is recording an album (Ok, well maybe she is hot).

Come on E! – stop it with the cyber-sexism and show some of the REAL HOTTEST WOMEN on the web (and don’t say Velma).  Do we have to pose in a bikini to get your attention??

I am sure Valleywag would add Natali Del Conte to the list.


Is Eva Longoria A CrackBerry?

I was watching the 2007 Emmy’s on t.v. when I saw an interview with Eva Longoria. They asked her what she is carrying in her adorable clutch, and she pulled out a lipstick and a BlackBerry. She even mentioned that the clutch was the perfect size for the BlackBerry. When she showed her BlackBerry, it was from the back and it looked like the Curve (I recognize it because I have one).

Photo credits Jeff Vespa/ on Yahoo

I wondered why I am so obsessed about identifying celebrities with BlackBerrys? Just the other day I posted about Jennifer Garner and her BlackBerry. Then I decided I enjoy identifying celebrities that seem to want to take charge of their lives instead of handing everything over to personal assistants. Because carrying a BlackBerry/PDA enables management of their schedule and their life from one little gadget. That is something I admire.

OK, and I like to get ideas of cute clutches like the one Eva Longoria has to carry my BlackBerry. Not every small bag is big enough for a PDA…..I need to find out the name of that clutch…Does anyone know the name? Please help:-)


Celebrity Cravings?, Try TeamSugar

I was going over my morning RSS feeds, and I saw this post from TechCrunch about TeamSugar’s Top 100 Celebrity List. I am already a big TechCrunch fan, but now I can add TeamSugar to the list. Hey, any site that provides a quick way for a hip mama to
get her fix of celebrity gossip is ok by me. And, I do like the fact
that the rankings are user generated.

There were the standard hotties like McDreamy that made it to number 12, but the user generated ratings made it clear that women like America Ferrera (listed above Jennifer Aniston) are defining new guidelines for beauty. I can also proudly say that the 2nd (Angelina Jolie), 3rd (Reese Witherspoon), 5th(Sarah Jessica Parker) and 6th (Kate Winslet) highest rated celebrities are MOMS! Yeah, there is life after childbirth….. With alittle help from a personal trainer.

I have been following TeamSugar since I read about them alongside TechCrunch in the Business 2.0 Blogging for Dollars article.

of the most ambitious efforts comes from Sugar Publishing, founded in
April by 32-year-old San Francisco software entrepreneur Brian Sugar
with $250,000 of his own money.

This is so exciting, Fashion Week Live and TeamSugar Celebrity 100 – all in one week! I will definitely get my fashion and celebrity fix today. Now I can go back to putting on my sweats and playing with my boys.